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Harsher White-Collar Crime Penalties?

Posted February. 15, 2006 04:43,   


“As it is the defendant’s first offense, which the defendant sincerely regrets, and because the defendant has greatly contributed to the development of a democratic government, I sentence probation for the defendant.”

Soft punishments for so-called “white-collar” crimes committed by politicians who either received large amounts of slush funds or illegal political donations, and owners of large business companies who embezzled billions of won may become harsher.

The Changwon court (president of court, Kim Jong-dae) announced its plan to provide specific “standards of case assessment” to quell disputes about unfairness brought on against court verdicts regarding white collar crimes on February 14.

There have been discussions within and outside the legal circles regarding the implementation of case assessment standards, and even the Presidential Committee on Judicial Reforms passed a vote to establish a case assessment standards committee last November.

However, it is the first time for a local court to come up with consistent case assessment standards regarding white collar crimes.

Such course of action by the Changwon court may greatly affect other courts.

Senior judge Moon Hyung-bae of the Changwon court is quoted to have said, “We have prepared first draft of specific case assessment standards that could be respected and followed by all judges in our court regarding white collar crimes.”

These standards will become effective immediately once the draft is passed on February 27.

The Changwon court’s main objective is to leave no room for complaint by citizens regarding loose verdicts on white collar criminals by minimizing the number of probation verdicts.

For example, the court sets specific standards such as “1-year sentence to prison for every 10 million won the defendant receives” and sentences imprisonment as much as possible rather than letting people get away with only probation or fines. Non-restraint defendants will be faced with a court restraint order.

Ji-Seong Jeon Jeong-Hoon Kang verso@donga.com manman@donga.com